|© MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.|
Carroll ends Missions' marathon win09/15/2011 2:52 AM ET
By Robert Emrich / Special to MLB.com
For those Missions fans who stuck it out Wednesday night at Nelson W. Wolff Municipal Stadium, it was the happiest 20th inning they'll probably ever see.
Sawyer Carroll hit a two-out walk-off single to end the longest playoff game in Texas League history and give San Antonio a 5-4 victory over the Arkansas Travelers.
The Missions took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-5 Championship Series and left them one win from their second title in five years.
Jaff Decker, one of the stars of Tuesday's series opener struck out leading off the 20th. Jedd Gyorko, whose only hit tied the game in the bottom of the 14th, walked and -- after Vince Belnome flied out -- stole second base to set the stage for Carroll's big hit.
"It was huge. He got a great jump and was able to steal without much problem," Carroll said. "After that, my whole approach changed. After he stole the base, I was just trying to do anything I could to end the game. I was ready to go home."
Carroll, who finished with three hits, was in the middle of the Missions' ninth-inning comeback in Game 1, delivering a tying single. Just over six hours after Wednesday's contest began, he hit a 2-1 pitch from Daniel Sattler (0-1) up the middle.
"I'm really happy," the 25-year-old outfielder said. "I really don't know how to explain it. Stats don't count as far as your regular-season stats, you're just out there trying to win the game. You don't mind giving yourself up to help win the game. I've been fortunate enough to get a couple of clutch hits. It's a good feeling, for sure."
As the game moved along, more and more records began to fall. After Blake Tekotte grounded out to end the 19th, it became the longest playoff game in league history, breaking a 69-year-old record. When the Travelers' Matt Long hit a comebacker to end the top of the 20th, he eclipsed a playoff record with 10 at-bats.
Despite the outcome, the one thing both teams shared was exhaustion, something that became pretty obvious.
"I think both teams were just spent," Carroll said. "Everyone was cramping and trying to stay loose. It was unlike anything I've ever seen. This was the most tiring and mentally draining game I have ever been a part of."
Eddie Kunz (1-0), who had not pitched since Sept. 4, allowed one hit over two scoreless innings to get the win. Pedro Hernandez gave up a run on four hits and struck out nine over six innings. Overall, the Missions' bullpen limited the Travelers to seven hits over the final 14 innings, a performance Carroll described as "unbelievable."
Coming off a heartbreaking loss in Game 1, Arkansas had a chance to come away with a split of the two games in San Antonio after Roberto Lopez led off the 14th with his third postseason homer. But Gyorko tied it with an RBI single in the bottom half.
After a much-needed travel day, the series resumes Friday in Arkansas.